Rishikesh, Uttarakhand: Around 5,000 zero waste, "bio-digester" toilets will soon be coming up in villages along the 2,500-km stretch of the Ganga basin, a religious leader associated with the project said here.
The project has been undertaken by the Ganga Action Plan (GAP) under the leadership of Swami Chidanand Saraswati. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was Saturday signed between the GAP, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the designer of the toilets.
"Most of the people living in the Ganga river basin have no sanitary facilities. They are forced to use the Ganga as a toilet out of necessity, fouling her waters and potentially spreading disease," said Swami Chidanand Saraswati, president of Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh, and founder of the GAP.
The first bio-digester toilet was inaugurated at the `ashram` Oct 15 by Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi.
Suitable for sub-zero temperature of Himalayan region or railway coaches, buses and highways, the toilets recycle human waste. They can provide fertilisers for crops, water for irrigation and methane gas to power villages. They are also 100 percent maintenance free and economically viable.
Apart from the bio-digester toilets, Swami Chidanand announced that he would work towards planting of trees to arrest deforestation and encouraging eco-crematoriums. He will be working with experts to find sustainable solutions to effectively manage solid waste in and around Ganga.
Providing water to all villagers in the Ganga basin, cleaning the tracks of the Indian railway network and installing bio-digester toilets on trains, protecting and preserving the natural habitat of tigers and other wild animals are some of the other priorities of Parmarth Niketan Ashram.
Several prominent seers and spiritual leaders from all faiths gathered at the banks of the Ganga Saturday to participate in the inter-faith congregation for environmental preservation.
They discussed the crucial role that religious and spiritual leaders need to play in protecting and preserving the environment.